SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A former Fort Drum Army sergeant abused his position to defraud the IRS out of $115,000 by filing false income tax returns of his lower-ranking soldiers, a federal prosecutor said.
Bobby Lemon, 36, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison last week for filing 30 false income tax returns for 2011 and 2012 for the soldiers who were under his command.
U.S. District Judge David Hurd also ordered Lemon to repay $115,391 to the Internal Revenue Service.
Lemon claimed on the soldiers' returns that they were married with children when they were not, or that they had more children than they actually had, court papers said.
He used the identities of his own family members for deductions on the soldiers' tax returns, court papers said.
In one case, Lemon prepared the tax return for a female soldier who was single with no children. He reported she was married with two children and claimed a refund of $7,138 when she was only entitled to a $1,177 refund, court papers said.
Lemon deposited $2,000 of the refund into the soldier's bank account, and $5,138 into his own, court papers said. He later offered her $1,000 if she agreed to tell the IRS that he had her permission to take some of the money, court papers said.
"The defendant abused his position as a superior officer to gain access to lower-ranking soldiers to carry out his scheme -- a scheme that was very lucrative," Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Thomson wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Federal sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of between 24 and 30 months in prison. Hurd cited Lemon's military service as a reason for imposing a sentence below the recommended minimum.
Lemon, of McRae, Georgia, was honorably discharged from the Army in 2015 after serving 17 years in the Army. He served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, his lawyer, Kimberly Zimmer, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Lemon did not use the stolen money for himself, Zimmer wrote. He gave the money to his relatives who live in rural Georgia and "otherwise lack any financial resources," she wrote.
Lemon told federal probation officers he intends "to pay back every penny," Zimmer wrote.
He pleaded guilty last year to aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false and fraudulent tax return and filing his own false income tax return. He admitted filing the false returns while he was at Fort Drum and deployed in Afghanistan.
Evidence indicates some of the soldiers were unaware Lemon was reporting false information on their tax returns, Zimmer wrote. But some soldiers did know about the false claims that went to the IRS, she wrote.
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